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Disability discrimination in the workplace

From Another perspective

January 18, 2011

We're talking this month about discrimination in the workplace against any employee(s) on the basis of their disability, as covered by Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Discrimination in the workplace has always been a controversial topic inside and outside of company board rooms, personnel offices, and by owner/managers of even smaller businesses. While many people with disabilities do receive other benefits from the government as mandated by law to help them to lead a better life, in the corporate world, this perceived "double dipping" has led to some people with a disability being discriminated against in the workplace. Obviously, besides being a quite petty (or worse) reaction, such discrimination - whether it comes from the employer or co-workers or both - affects the morale and confidence of the employee with a disability being discriminated against, while hampering their progress in life.

Employment discrimination is an issue which needs to be handled seriously, especially by the employee who is being discriminated against.

Simply put, before we can properly fight for our rights as an employee, we should first know how to identify disability discrimination. Why? Because it is only when you are really aware that there is such provable discrimination going on against you, can you then take legal steps to safeguard your job and/or your career. Let's see how you might be able to identify disability discrimination against you in the work place.

Disability discrimination in the workplace can be identified from incidences happening around you in your office. If you observe that all important tasks and projects are being taken away from you without proper reason, then this might be a warning sign for you. All of a sudden your job profile is changed; you are given unrealistic targets, while expecting timely completion; not making you a part of important meetings; giving your peers promotions and increments, before you, without any justified reason can all be the signs that you are being a victim of disability discrimination.

A salary cut and reducing your incentives could also indicate discrimination on the basis of disability. You should also remember that your employer, at the bottom line, still has the right to fire you for reasons other than disability discrimination. Verbal comments made against you, by your seniors or peers, can also be included in disability discrimination. The types of employment discrimination will help you to better understand the type(s) of discrimination that you may be dealing with.

Recognizing the importance of protecting the interests and preventing unfair treatment of people with disabilities, the Congress has drafted and passed a law, known as The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This law prohibits companies from discriminating on the basis of disability. Protection is provided by the ADA for both, physical as well as mental disabilities. .

Disability discrimination in the workplace can be curbed only if you, the victim, make use of that law. In doing so, that employee should, ideally, consult an employment attorney who will guide that employee along the right way. By discussing the entire case with their employment lawyer, people with disabilities can find out ways to get the justice that they deserve from being discriminated against because of their disability.

Quite frankly, the biggest mistake which people being discriminated against can commit is when they contact an attorney when it is already too late. By delaying things, you are making your own, specific case even weaker. Why? Because when needed, it might become much more difficult to present harder evidence, with proofs and witnesses to help both you and your attorney to prove that you have been the victim of various pattern(s) of discrimination.

The ADA is a law that can really help you or anyone else in the workplace who also just might have a disability that they are dealing with to fight and overcome what has become a clear pattern of discrimination against your disability in the work place. If you are convinced that you are being the victim of such discrimination in your work place, then use that law to help you.

Paul Rendine is chairman of the Disability Advocates of Delmarva Inc. group. He can be contacted at his e-mail address at



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